LITTLE ROCK — The NBA is down to its version of the Final Four (a.k.a the Eastern and Western Conference finals), and half of the Hogs playing in the League are still in the mix for their first NBA championship.
Former Arkansas star Patrick Beverley (6-1 guard) has battled through injuries while going from full-time starter to bench reserve, and his patience paid off with his best performance of the postseason in game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals on Friday as Beverley had 12 points (3-of-4 field goal shooting from 3 and 3-of-4 free throws), 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, and 1 block in 27 minutes to help his No. 4 seed Los Angeles Clippers to a 131-119 road win over the No. 1 seed Utah Jazz, sending the Clippers to the Western Conference finals against the No. 2 seed Phoenix Suns. It’s the Clippers first-ever appearance in a conference finals in the organization’s 51 years competing in the NBA.
Beverley scored 11 of his points in the 4th quarter, including a triple at the 1:15 mark that extended Los Angeles to a 128-118 lead. His two free throws with 37.9 seconds left were the final points scored by either team in the game. For his performance, Beverley has earned Pro Hoop Hogs Player of the Week recognition, marking the third time this season he’s received the honor.
The Clippers have since lost their opening game of the Western Conference finals against Phoenix, 120-114, on Sunday as Beverley finished with 2 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 steal in 15 minutes. Game 2 of the series is 8 p.m. CT on Tuesday in Phoenix (ESPN). Beverley is averaging 4.1 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 1.3 assists in 14.5 minutes while shooting 42.1% from the field, including 35.0% from 3, and 83.3% from the free throw line through the 12 playoffs games he’s appeared in.
* Former Arkansas star Bobby Portis (6-10 forward / center, Little Rock native) saw limited action in the first four games of No. 3 seed Milwaukee’s Eastern Conference semifinal series against the No. 2 seed Brooklyn Nets, and he did not play in the final three games as the Bucks prevailed, 4-3, capped by a dramatic 115-111 overtime road win Saturday in the deciding game 7 of the series. The Bucks were 2-2 with Portis in the lineup in the series, and 2-1 without him. In his four appearances against the Nets, Portis saw his minutes vastly reduced and chopped up into small playing segments, and the result was his worst production of the season in terms of both volume and efficiency. Portis averaged 3.0 points and 4.0 rebounds in 14.5 minutes while shooting 6-of-18 for 33.3% from the field, including 0-of-4 from 3, and 0-of-2 from the free throw line. In the Bucks 4-game sweep of Miami in the first round of the playoffs, Portis averaged 10.8 points and 5.3 rebounds in 17.8 minutes per game off the bench while shooting 58.6% from the field, including 46.2% from 3, and 75.0% from the free throw line. Milwaukee begins its best-of-7 Eastern Conference finals series against the No. 5 seed Atlanta Hawks with a home game at 7:30 p.m. CT on Wednesday (TNT). Portis has earned 10 PHH POW honors this season.
* Former Arkansas star Isaiah Joe (6-4 guard, Fort Smith native) and his top-seed Philadelphia 76ers’ were upset by the No. 5 seed Atlanta Hawks, 4-3 in the Eastern Conference semifinal series, capped by a stunning 103-96 home loss in game 7 on Sunday that eliminated the Sixers from the playoffs. Joe played in only one game in the series, making his first career playoff basket — a 9-foot floater in the lane with 11.2 seconds remaining — to finish off a 127-111 Sixers’ road win on June 11 in game 3 with his parents in attendance at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. In Philadelphia’s 12 playoff games (5 against the Washington Wizards and 7 against the Hawks), Joe appeared in only 4 outings and totaled 2 points and 1 assist in a collective 10 minutes. Joe appeared in 41 regular-season games (with one start) and scored in double-figures 5 times in his rookie season. He averaged 3.7 points in 9.3 minutes per game and shot 36.1% from the field, including 39-of-106 from 3 for 36.8%, and 18-of-24 from the free throw line for 75.0%. Joe won 4 PHH POW honors during the season.
Linked is a highlight of Joe’s first career NBA playoff score
* Former Arkansas star Daniel Gafford (6-10 center, El Dorado native) and his Washington Wizards lost their Eastern Conference first-round series, 4-1, against the Philadelphia 76ers. In those 5 playoff games, Gafford started twice and averaged 11.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, and 1.0 steal in 23.4 minutes while shooting 84.6% from the field and 62.5% from the free throw line. After being traded by the Chicago Bulls just before the trade deadline, Gafford played in 23 regular-season games (starting once) with the Wizards and averaged 10.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks in 17.7 minutes while shooting 68.1% from the field and 67.2% from the free throw line. Gafford earned 8 PHH POW honors this season.